I’m not really a house person. I did help occupy a house for eight years in Duxbury, Massachusetts, when I was still the mother of growing boys and had a (second) husband reasonably good at fixing things that broke. But apart from that, I’ve spent all of my childhood and most of my adult life in urban apartments, where there are supers you can call when things go wrong.
Bill is the first to admit, with a candid smile, that he’s not handy. So when we moved into a suburban condominium townhouse here in Princeton, it was reassuring to know the grounds and the leaves and the snow and the gutters would be taken care of by the condominium association. I could put my mind to more productive and satisfying matters than property maintenance.
Little did I know. Yes, the association takes care of the outside. (And charges extra when the winter weather’s really bad.) But there’s also the inside — the part we own. Why just in the past month or so, while I’ve been beguiling myself (and hopefully you) with seductive blog posts about times gone by, the present has gone on making its destructive inroads into the status quo.
All the electric plugs in the master bathroom have given up the ghost. That means the comforting little night light now fails to go on at night. My electric toothbrush has stopped working. After I wash my hair, I have to plug my hand-held hairdryer into a socket by the bed where’s there no mirror and I can’t see what I’m doing. TO DO: Call Gold Medal for electrician. After said electrician replaces the electric plug (for $145 plus tax), he is sure to find some other expensive thing to fix while he’s here. He always does.
Bill helped himself up from the “guest” toilet downstairs by grasping a handy towel bar and pulled it out, dislodging some plaster in the process. Now the “guest” towel hangs by a dowel protruding from a partially open hole in the wall. (Can we invite real guests to do their business in such an unsightly venue?) TO DO: Call Don for appointment to make repair estimate. Don is the nice man who helped another nice man take to Cranbury Books many of Bill’s excess books at one time piled up in the garage. On that occasion, Don claimed ability to do all kinds of construction or repair work in the home and thrust his card at me. No job too small! (He said.) Any port in a storm. (I say.) What will Don charge, I wonder.
Condo association has just voted that all dryer vents must be cleaned every three years. Copy of paid invoice should be filed with association office by June 1. (What will they do if I fail to comply? Evict me?) TO DO: Call guy recommended by condo association management company, which has negotiated special price of $69 plus tax with this person, based on volume. (There are 52 units for him to work on.)
The winds of March blew out the pilot light in the gas-powered fireplace. This morning, a cold one, I wasted half an hour on my knees (cushioned against the hard floor by throw pillows) — peering into its dusty innards and pushing switches marked “on,” to no avail, although the cats loved the dusty innards and acquired a dusty coating themselves. TO DO: Brush cats before they spread dust everywhere. Then call local fireplace guy to get pilot light on again. The last time he was here (and reproached us for the dust, but who dusts inside a gas-powered fireplace?) — his help and reproach cost $125 plus tax.
The cleaning ladies, a Polish mother and daughter ever-vigilant against moths, saw one fly out of my closet and another out of the upstairs litter box, which is filled with corn-based litter. With Slavic looks of reproach difficult to withstand, they are strongly urging that next time they come they should empty my closet and scrub it from top to bottom with noxious-smelling substances, after which they will replace my clothes, probably hanging them in the wrong order. For this I will have to pay them extra, and then rearrange everything after they’re gone. No, I am not a total wimp. I did refuse to replace the litter with a non-natural brand. If moths want to feed where my pussycats defecate, so be it. TO DO: Purchase noxious-smelling substances at hardware store on Tuesday, when there’s a senior citizen discount.
I have agreed to host a new group of would-be meditators on Tuesday afternoons. We live in a no-parking-on-the-street neighborhood. There’s room for only one car behind our two in the driveway. If there were less “stuff” along the sides of our garage, Bill’s car — slightly smaller than mine — would fit. Then there would be room for four carpooled guests in two cars to park behind mine. TO DO: Call youth who works part-time in hardware store and ask if he would like to make extra money by helping move heavy “stuff” from garage to basement. Neatly. Discuss with Bill how much to pay him. Discuss with Bill how to make sure he’s neat. (He wasn’t, last time.)
Please notice there’s no “TO DO: Write next amusing TGOB post” on this list. Now you know why.